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Local athletes, teams ready for successful seasons | Local sports

By on September 30, 2021 0

Fall sports are well advanced for high school teams.

This means playoff footage is getting crisp for the Lawrence County teams. It’s clear that the Mohawk High women’s cross country team are a favorite to defend their WPIAL Class A championship.

“Things are going really well. I tend to say that this team, right now, is a little better than last year’s squad, ”said veteran Mohawk coach Dave Bredl. “I am very happy.”

Nadia Lape was the only senior to graduate from the 2020 squad, which also finished second in the PIAA Championship competition.

“Not only is she a great athlete, but her leadership skills were fantastic,” said Bredl. “It’s one thing that we are really going to miss this year.”

The Lady Warriors’ experience of hope helps fill this void. Four of the team’s top seven runners last year were freshmen – Natalie Lape, Evelyn McClain, Lillian McClain and Aricka Young.

“Throughout last year their youth was not a problem until we got to Hershey and we weren’t allowed to run the course before the race which was weird,” said Bredl. “They had never taken the course before. They were in a situation they weren’t used to and that’s where their youth worked against them. They were a bit shaken. They realize that with a little more experience and more self-confidence, they could have taken it all. They know how close they were last year and are pretty determined to go back and make the deal. “

Senior Sidney Andrews and junior Katelyn Stivers return from last year’s squad. Freshman Ellie Whippo also contributed immediately.

“They are a great group. They are a unique group because they were basically bred as competitors. I give Kirk Lape a lot of credit for this. He kept them in basketball and running and stuff. They are a good example of what can be done if you give time and attention to a potential athlete, ”said Bredl. “They are determined to be a better team than they were last year. Some of them are actually better runners than last year. I can’t wait to see how the season unfolds. “

CROSS COUNTRY BOYS

The future is also bright for the New Castle men’s cross country team.

The Red Hurricane won a WPIAL Class 2A title in 2019 and finished sixth last year. With an almost entirely new roster squad, New Castle hopes to surprise some enemies this season – and it already is. The team were 3-1 in their first four section meetings.

” We are well. We’re sort of in a year of transition. We graduated seven seniors from last year’s squad, so we’ve lost a lot of leadership. A big part of that team that represented us for the WPIAL championship is gone, ”said New Castle coach Jeff Shaftic, who noted that Anthony Litrenta (Duquesne), Jonah Miller (Tiffin) and Gavyn Hansotte (Gannon ) of this team are now running at university. . “As of 2019, we entered COVID and no one had a regular year last year. A lot of the stuff that we rely on the older guys to instill in the younger guys hasn’t happened because of the circumstances and the training difficulties. So it’s a raw group, but they work extremely hard.

“Most of them are participating in college races for the first time in their lives. We asked them a lot of things and they learn quickly, ”he continued. “We see this as a two-year process. We want to improve, compete and win this year, but our eyes are on what we will be able to do next year. With the type of effort they put in, I think we can be in contention next year to have a great season. “

Junior Lucas Bradley is the team’s top returner. He finished 14th in the WPIAL championship last season. Shaftic is hoping Bradley can qualify for the PIAA Championship this fall. Juniors Gavin Petrone and Josh Hoerner, sophomores Nate Pitzer and Andrew Kalditis and freshman Ben Bryson are some of the team’s top runners.

“It’s all about experience. They don’t know how to run, but they are learning. I’m having a lot of fun with the guys this year. It’s fun trying to train these guys. It’s a challenge to get back to where we were, ”Shaftic said. “I hope we learn something from each race and get better and more confident. Hopefully by the end of the year and when some of the biggest races take place, we will surprise some people. I think we already have. On paper, we were ranked 23rd or 24th out of 32 teams in WPIAL at the start of the season. We have already exceeded expectations, but we are not where we want to be.

GOLF FOR BOYS

Neshannock placed fourth in the WPIAL Class 2A Tag Team Championship a year ago. The Lancers are looking to grab some spots this season. Neshannock was undefeated in his first 10 matches.

“I am fortunate to coach the group of kids I have,” said Neshannock coach Mike Kirkwood. “They work hard, do what they’re supposed to do and they’re competitive.”

Seniors Paul Litrenta and Sam Ball and sophomore Matt Morelli have all qualified for the WPIAL Class 2A Individual Championship. Senior Bain McGann, junior Caleb McConnell, sophomores Sophia Covelli, Michael Melaragno, Joe Presnar and Max Vitale are among the other top golfers on the team.

“After our first three, our other three or four golfers, we always put one in and take one out because they’re all very competitive. It’s good to have that competitiveness to challenge everyone. There is always pressure on them to do well. It’s a good thing to have, which maybe some other teams don’t, ”said Kirkwood. “A lot of the summer I would see them playing Avalon. It’s nice to see them play against each other and see who helps who. They’re all in it for the right reasons. Hopefully we can finish what we started and see what happens. “

GIRLS FOOTBALL

Wilmington has won seven District 10 titles. The Lady Greyhounds are aiming for another this fall. The team started with a 5-1 start.

“It’s been a challenge with COVID-19, but the squad is strong,” Wilmington coach Ben Bailey said. “We generally offer a competitive group year after year. “

Wilmington graduated six players from a team that fell to Seneca, 2-1, in overtime in last year’s D-10, Class 1A playoffs. The Lady Greyhounds made five seniors and added another. Usually the team has a large freshman group, but only has one this year.

“The lack of freshmen is worrying,” Bailey said. “We have 19 players now, but usually 25 or 26.”

Nonetheless, Wilmington returned most of his offensive firepower to Reese Walker, Lindsey Martineau, Analiese Hendrickson and Anna Williams.

“We’re a little younger at the back. We’ve changed the system to fit what we get back, so it’s new to everyone. They get it. They are improving game after game. They also become more comfortable with each other, ”Bailey said. “It’s a great group of players. They fit together well; their communication is good and the team atmosphere is more comfortable.

GIRLS TENNIS

Neshannock plans to be one of the best teams in WPIAL in a few years. However, the Lady Lancers want to make their mark this season. They have gone 4-1 in their first five matches.

“We got eight degrees last year and started seven sophomores this year. This may be the biggest rebuild we have done, ”said Neshannock coach Chuck Dess. “We positioned ourselves for a shot at making the playoffs and that’s a real testament to the girls.”

Sophomores Elena Noga, Chloe Maalouf and Lindsey Urban are the Lady Lancers’ singles players. Alex Ong and Sophia Covelli and Juliana Medure and Brianna Bailey are double tandems. Junior Kat Venasco, sophomore Kamryn Copple and rookie Diana Swartz are also on the squad.

“It was my whole JV team last year and they were unbeaten. It’s a big adjustment for college, but we have a lot of good athletes and competitors. They are still looking forward to the next game,” said Dess. “They want to get to Hershey as a senior. They got better with every game for sure. They just trust the process. You can see their growth. Everyone was really nervous the first game. “You could see, with every game, their confidence growing. They want to be on top. Hopefully they will continue to improve for us.”

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Last fall, Ellwood City reached a WPIAL Championship game. This year, Union hopes to be able to follow suit.

The Lady Scots (7-0 overall) positioned themselves atop the WPIAL Section 1-A standings with a 5-0 section start, including a key 3-1 victory over Beaver County Christian.

“Our goal is to win the section. We’ve been talking about it for years. It’s within reach now, ”said Union coach Nicolle Benincase. “With where we are right now, it’s hard not to be excited. Everyone is nervous with COVID. Do we have a full season? As for the fall practices and that we were able to organize our team camp, I knew it would be a tough group of girls to beat for our opponents.

Union reached the playoffs last year but fell in the first round to Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur. A lot of experience has come back from this team. Seniors Amanda Book and Maddie Kassie and juniors Elise Booker, Ella Casalandra and Kendall Preuhs all returned as starters. However, the Lady Scots will face 12 girls in the course of a match.

“We knew from the end of last season that this would hopefully be our year. There’s a lot of talent and it’s the deepest bench I’ve had in my seven years as a head coach, ”said Benincase. “They play almost perfect technical volleyball which we have struggled with in the past. I am very happy with the start.

The team returns largely intact next year as well, as only three seniors graduate.

“I can’t wait to work with most of them again next year, but everyone is focused now,” said Benincase.

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